Your loved ones will say, "Ooh, la, la!" when you pull this French baguette out of the oven.
You Will Need
* 4 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
* ½ tsp. salt
* 1 tbsp. active dry yeast
* 2 c. warm water
* A couple of tablespoons of oil
* A bowl of water
* A baking sheet
* Parchment paper
* A baking stone (optional)
Step 1: Mix the flour and salt
Mix the flour and salt in a medium-size bowl.
Step 2: Combine yeast and water
Put the yeast, water, and half the flour mixture in a large bowl and mix it together with your hands until it's doughy. Cover with a clean dishcloth and let it sit at room temperature for three hours, until it more than doubles in size.
Step 3: Add remaining flour
Using your hands, mix the remaining flour mixture into the dough.
Step 4: Knead it
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead it for about 10 minutes.
Step 5: Oil a bowl
Place the dough in a large, lightly-oiled bowl, turning the dough around in the bowl so it gets covered with oil. Cover with a dishcloth and let it sit for another hour.
Step 6: Preheat oven
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit and knead the dough one more time for about five minutes before dividing it into three parts. Roll each part into a long baguette with your hands, and let them rise in a warm, draft-free spot, for another half hour.
Step 7: Slash and moisten
Make four lengthwise slashes on top of the loaf with a sharp knife, going no deeper than ¼ inch. Lightly spritz or brush the top with cool water. If you're not using the baking stone, cover an upside-down baking sheet with parchment paper and sprinkle it with cornmeal.
Step 8: Bake
Place a medium-size bowl filled halfway with water on the bottom rack of the oven. Bake the baguettes in the middle of the oven on the baking stone or sheet. Remove the bowl after 15 minutes. Continue baking the bread until golden, 20 to 30 minutes total.
Step 9: Get it while it's hot!
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